Trials of Independent Bookselling, Part 378

Today I received this letter. It explains itself. I’m sharing it with you with the author’s name redacted because his apology seems, to me, to be sincere. It’s a tough world for us independents.

Dear Independent Bookstore,

Yesterday I sent you an e-mail marketing my book to you. Thoughtlessly, I pitched for you to buy my book on Amazon and Barnes and Noble – two outlets I realize do not usually go over well with independent stores.

For this I simply wanted to apologize. As a socially thoughtful author I went with a small North American publisher because they print local and plant trees for books sold. In my book I also encourage youth to buy local as a means to decrease the demand for slave labor. Anyways, not being a marketing genius, it was a mistake, I am sorry, and the book can obviously be bought straight from the distributor as well.

I also misspelled two words so you might be happy to know I have been riddled with a strong sense of idiocy all morning as punishment!

Thank you,

[The Author]

p.s. If you have ideas on how I can get more books into Independent stores like yours I am all ears because I would far prefer supporting local community shops.

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Were You There at Cormac McCarthy’s First Book Signing?

I was not. But theoretically, I could have been. McCarthy, though best known for his Western novels, wrote his first novel about the people and places nearest to him. Suttree was a poignant, yet brutal depiction of his hometown of Knoxville.

DonnybrookAs you read this, you have a chance to meet the next Cormac McCarthy, the next Elmore Leonard. Tomorrow, Saturday, March 16, Frank Bill will be reading from and signing his first novel, Donnybrook, at Destinations Booksellers. The celebration of Bill’s book kicks off at 1:30 with a pop/classical flute concert that will continue throughout the afternoon. The author reading begins promptly at 2 p.m. Afterward, Bill will take your questions and sign copies of his novel.

Please don’t miss this once in a lifetime opportunity to meet an author at the launch of what will certainly be a stellar literary career.

To make it easier for you, we’re offering a 30% discount all day Saturday on in-stock regularly priced (non-sale) merchandise throughout the store if you buy just 1 copy of Donnybrook. We’ve done extensive promotion and advertising for this appearance, so if you don’t come to this event, it will severely limit our ability to bring in top-flight authors in the future.

Destinations Booksellers is located at 604 E. Spring Street in New Albany, Indiana. We’re open Monday through Saturday from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. You can call us at (812) 944-5116 or e-mail us at At our Website,, you can order books, music, and movies (at a discount) for delivery direct to your home. You can also search and buy e-books and you can rent your college textbooks. Destinations Booksellers is a full-service bookstore selling new books only (no used books and we do not buy used books) plus selected gifts, games, toys, and music.

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Unique Voice of Frank Bill Here Saturday

Once you’ve read his words you will never, ever forget them. Here’s your chance to meet with and talk to Frank Bill, whose debut novel from Farrar, Strauss & Giroux marks the launch of a literary star. He’ll be here at Destinations Booksellers on Saturday, March 16, starting at 2 p.m. We’ve also arranged for a musical concert kicking off at 1:30 and continuing throughout the afternoon.

Frank Bill

I’ve been loath to write a review on Donnybrook, simply because the reviews from others have been so compelling and true.

We are extremely proud to be hosting Frank during his national rollout for Donnybrook. If you miss it, you’ll be missing a great opportunity to be there as his literary career heads for the stratosphere.

His is a most unique voice. His use of the language is daring. And his subject is people you meet and see every day right here in Southern Indiana.

Allow me to share the words of others who’ve read Donnybrook.

  • Frank Bill’s first novel, Donnybrook, is vivid in its violence, grim in its grimness. It reams the English language with a broken beer bottle and lets the blood drops tell the story. – DANIEL WOODRELL, author of Winter’s Bone.
  • With action like a belt across the face and vivid prose like a stroke up the neck, Frank Bill’s astonishing novel Donnybrook renders you punch-drunk. Here’s the writer to watch: mad, bad, and dangerous to know. – MEGAN ABBOTT, author of Dare Me.
  • There are these guys, like Daniel Woodrell, Chuck Pahlaniuk, and Donald Ray Pollock, incredible writers who stand out in the silk-scarf literary world like a bulging bicep with a cell-block tattoo. Frank Bill is one of those guys. – CRAIG JOHNSON, author of the Walt Longmire mysteries.
  • Bill portrays depravity and violence as few others can – or perhaps as few others dare to do … the plot builds relentlessly to the final round of the Donnybrook and gives the reader unexpected jolts all the way through … Bill is one hell of a storyteller. – KIRKUS REVIEWS
  • Don’t poke this book with a stick or you’ll make it angry. – BONNIE JO CAMPBELL, author of Once Upon a River.
  • Frank Bill’s Donnybrook is Poe shooting heroin, Steinbeck freebasing cocaine, and Hemingway really drunk. It’s so great I felt I had been throat-punched, kicked in the cojones and was going to spit blood. – RAY WYLIE HUBBARD

Do not miss this event, folks. We have a flute concert scheduled simultaneously and we’ll have modest refreshments available. Frank Bill’s book is only $15. And if it matters to you, Frank is from Corydon, Ind. and is a frequent correspondent for The New York Times.


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In Memoriam: Patrick Hess


I just learned of the death of Dr. Patrick Hess – Pat, as we knew him, but Dr. Hess to so many, many New Albanians for whom he was their primary care pediatrician.

Pat was truly a man of his generation. Cultured, witty, inquisitive. I of course, only knew him in his “retirement,” and during those years I was privileged to serve him and to call him a friend.

The only photo at hand is the one above. It was his last workplace, serving first as his medical office and subsequently as his gallery.

You see, in retirement, Pat chose to begin another career path. And though he consulted as a physician for many years after retirement, his new passion became his painting.

If you hold a piece of Dr. Hess’s art, treasure it. My experience of his art, an experience that undoubtedly came at the peak of his talents, included his whimsical/fantastical period. I’ve no talent for describing visual art, but I do know I enjoyed his gallery shows immensely.

Pat’s work was shown just a few years ago in an elegant New York gallery and he, his family, and his friends took great pride in how well accepted was his work.

Until a couple of years ago, Pat remained physically active, meeting with colleagues and friends at the Louisville YMCA. Those friends know more about Pat’s reading habits than I do because they shared their favorites among themselves.

But Pat and his wife Gloria also became very special patrons of Destinations Booksellers. From our inception, they were loyal and supportive customers who became friends to me, to Ann, and to our employees.

In recent years, Pat’s health began deteriorating. Ultimately, Pat and Gloria had to leave New Albany for a place in Louisville where Pat could get around easier. The deterioration continued, though Pat’s death still comes as a surprise.

Ann and I wish peace on Gloria and her children and grandchildren. They should know that Pat made an impact on his community in sundry ways and that he will be honored and remembered here and throughout our region.

Pat died Monday. He was 91. Visitation has been announced for this Thursday, Jan. 31, from 3 to 7 p.m. at Kraft Funeral Home on Spring Street. Further visitation, his funeral and interment will take place Friday afternoon.



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One Best Way

I received the letter below tonight in my e-mail. I’m not sure exactly how I got on the mailing list, but it is the first time I’ve seen the indiegogo Website used for this purpose.

But there’s one best way to make sure your village, town, or city remains one with an independent bookstore. Buy books from them. It’s really that simple.

Indies now have elegant e-book solutions, whether you want to read on your tablet (including iPads), your computer, your phone, or on a dedicated reader. We offer online purchasing (some nice discounts, too), in-store browsing and special ordering, textbook rental, e-books – even books available only in the U.K.

There’s really no reason NOT to buy from a local independent bookseller and if I were in Cambridge, I assure you I’d be doing what I could to support Lorem Ipsum, the bookstore in need below.

I won’t be doing what these folks are doing. I won’t beg. If things go as badly for us as they appear to be going for this Massachusetts bookstore, one day we just won’t be here anymore. It could happen here. It could happen to you.

That’s something to remember every day when you make your buying choices. Are your purchases funding a golden parachute or stock options for an executive in Seattle, Minneapolis, New York or Berlin? Did the chief financial officer in Bentonville just volunteer with your local charity?

We all have shops and restaurants we love. We all have seen loved stores disappear, seemingly from one week to the next. But disappearing stores and restaurants don’t get that way in a week or a month. The good independents, in fact, do everything in their power to keep going, if only because they can’t cut back to 900, 90, or 9 stores. Most are 100% invested in YOUR community.

So tomorrow, when you buy what you have to buy, when you eat what you have to eat, when you go where you have to go, think of those independent businesses who have served you satisfactorily before and check to see if they are still there. And if they are, buy something.



Times are tough for book lovers and bookstore owners, we all know that. Well, one bookstore needs any help you can give right now, or it’s going to be forced to close its doors forever.

Lorem Ipsum Books is a gem of a bookstore, tucked away in Inman Square in Cambridge, MA. With its quirky selection of used books, and its role as a gathering place for book lovers, music-makers and cultural enthusiasts, it’s been a wonderful addition to the community.

Well, this is really difficult for me to say… but yesterday we had to face the sad possibility of having to close the bookstore forever. That’s why I’m reaching out to you, my friends and fellow book lovers, to see if you will help us keep the bookstore from dying.

And here’s why you should REALLY care about this one: Lorem Ipsum has also been working to find ways to make bookstores EVERYWHERE survive through recent tech advancements. We firmly believe that although Kindles have a place in our lives, so do books and bookstores. We want to keep all bookstores open by embracing technology, not running away from it. See our video to see what we’ve been doing to help bookstores lately:

You can click below to watch the video we made to show you how much Lorem Ipsum means to us, what it’s all about, and why you should help keep this bookstore open for the next 10 years. If you can’t give, please share our message.

I bet you know LOTS of people who love bookstores, please help spread the word before it’s too late. If you care but can’t contribute, please share our story on Facebook and your other social networks. It doesn’t take much effort, but it can mean a lot.

It’s literally now or never with this bookstore!!! Thank you, thank you book lovers!

Wife of Matt, Owner of Lorem Ipsum Books


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